NHL roundup: Blackhawks still streaking

NHL roundup: Blackhawks still streaking
March 3, 2013, 7:00 pm
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BLACKHAWKS STILL STREAKING 

The Chicago Blackhawks’ historic run to begin the season continued Sunday with a 2-1 shootout win against the Detroit Red Wings. With the win, the Blackhawks (19-0-3) extended their NHL record to 22 straight games with at least one standings point to begin the year.

For a while Sunday it looked as though Chicago’s streak might finally come to an end with Detroit leading 1-0 and just over two minutes to play in the third period. Chicago’s Patrick Kane though netted his team-leading 11th goal of the season with 2:02 remaining in regulation and eventually scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Blackhawks their ninth straight win overall.

It remains to be seen just how long Chicago can extend its current streak but the Blackhawks’ upcoming schedule appears favorable. Of Chicago’s next seven games, none are against teams currently in a playoff position (through Sunday afternoon).

Instead, the Blackhawks’ next seven games include matchups against the 10th place Minnesota Wild (Mar. 5), the 13th place Colorado Avalanche (Mar. 6, 8 and 18), the 12th place Edmonton Oilers (Mar. 10), the 15th place Columbus Blue Jackets (Mar. 14) and the 11th place Dallas Stars (Mar. 16).                 

BOUDREAU HAS DUCKS IN A ROW:

Before the Blackhawks’ current run, the previous record for most consecutive games with at least one point to begin a season was set by the Anaheim Ducks who started 12-0-4 in 2006-07.

While the 2012-13 Ducks fell in regulation in their third game of the season, Bruce Boudreau’s team has been on a torrid pace to begin the year nonetheless. The Pacific Division leading Ducks enter play Monday with a 15-3-2 record and dating back to Jan.4, 2012, Anaheim is 39-15-8 overall.

CSNWashington.com spoke with Boudreau at his hockey camp last summer in Ste. Catherines, Ontario, and the former Capitals’ bench boss spoke of the challenges he faced in joining Anaheim midseason last year and the excitement of getting to work with the team for a full (albeit abbreviated as it turns out) season in 2013.

“I’ve never changed organizations to coach a team midway through a season so it was a new experience.” Boudreau said in August. “It was different but I thought [the players in Anaheim] started to get a hold of what I was trying to preach and for a couple of months we put together a pretty good run.

“I’m excited for the start of the [2012-13] season,” he said at the time, “and getting off to a good start because I think if you look at my record, my teams usually get off to good starts.”

Through 21 games, Boudreau has been true to his word that his team would start strong. The question remains whether the Ducks can finish stronger than any of Boudreau’s Capitals teams did from 2008-11 when he compiled a 17-20 record in the playoffs.

MALKIN SKATING:

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin was cleared for contact Sunday and took part in an optional practice with his teammates just nine days after suffering a concussion in a game against the Florida Panthers.

The Penguins (14-8-0) remain atop the Atlantic Division despite playing the last four games without the reigning league MVP.

“It was good to practice on the ice today with the team and [take] contact a little bit," Malkin told reporters in Pittsburgh Sunday. “I feel good now."

Even without Malkin in the lineup, the Penguins notched a season-high seven goals in Saturday’s 7-6 overtime win against the Northeast Division leading Montreal Canadiens.

Malkin did not rule himself out of Pittsburgh’s home game Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.